Made up of nearly 700 islands and more than 2,000 rocks and cays, the Bahamas lie within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies in the Atlantic Ocean. Known for its picturesque island scenes, shimmering waters and coral reefs, the Bahamas is truly paradisiacal and a big lure for expats from all over the globe.
Expats moving to the Bahamas, whether just for a few months or a longer-term relocation, will appreciate a lifestyle that is relaxed but also vibrant and colourful.
Living in the Bahamas as an expat
The country, which lies north of Cuba and southeast of the US state of Florida, is one of the richest in the Americas. With leisure activities ranging from sailing and snorkelling to relaxing on a beach or in a luxury spa, it’s no surprise that tourism accounts for over half of the country’s GDP. Additionally, around half of the island’s residents are employed in this sector, directly or indirectly.
After tourism, finance is the next most important industry. It is within these two sectors that most expats moving to the Bahamas will find a job. However, many of the expats living on the islands aren't there for work purposes but to enjoy their twilight years, retire and live a dream come true with their families.
The lifestyle and culture in the Bahamas are also unmatched. Music plays a big part in Bahamian culture, which is largely influenced by African traditions and European colonial influences. Cricket is a national pastime, and locals typically gather for matches every weekend during the cricket season from March to November.
Cost of living in the Bahamas
The cost of living in the Bahamas is high, at nearly double the global average. The cost of living in Nassau matches that of large metros such as London, Seoul and Los Angeles. Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2023 places Nassau as the 10th most expensive city out of 227 expat destinations worldwide.
Expats will be most surprised at the steep prices of basic groceries and commodities like milk, potatoes, deodorant and toothpaste, which are mostly imported, and the exorbitant prices when eating out. On the other hand, rent prices are surprisingly affordable for expats used to living in high-income cities.
Families and children in the Bahamas
Expats living in the Bahamas will find that the country has an excellent healthcare system, with several well-equipped hospitals and highly trained staff. Education is another key priority in the Bahamas. With the main language being English, integration into the local schooling system will be much easier for expat children. There are also a handful of international schools in the Bahamas, mostly in Nassau, the country's capital and largest city.
Weather in the Bahamas
Thanks to its low elevation and geographic position in the tropical Gulf Stream, the Bahamas presents a warm and balmy climate year-round. Its population is equally hospitable and welcoming to new arrivals, and has a reputation for being charming and always up for a party. From May to November, the warm rainy season brings a slightly increased chance of hurricanes, and the peak season is from December to April when temperatures range from 70°F (21°C) to 75°F (24°C).
Whether moving to the Bahamas for work or retirement, expats are lured by the promise of a stress-free environment with tropical beaches and turquoise seas, and the Bahamas will not disappoint.
Official name: The Commonwealth of the Bahamas
Population: More than 407,000
Capital city: Nassau
Political system: Unitary constitutional parliamentary monarchy
Neighbouring countries: The Bahamas shares maritime borders with Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic to the south, the Turks and Caicos Islands to the southeast, and the US state of Florida to the northwest.
Geography: The Bahamas is an archipelago of more than 700 islands and 2,400 cays in the Atlantic Ocean. The islands are all low-lying, with the highest point only reaching 207 feet (63 metres) above sea level (on Cat Island), and are made up mostly of rocky or mangrove swamp terrain.
Main languages: English
Major religions: Protestant Christianity, Roman Catholic
Electricity: 120 V and 60 Hz. Plug types A and B are used with two or three flat pins. European appliances typically require a 220-volt converter.
Money: Bahamian Dollar (BSD)
International dialling code: +1-242
Emergency numbers: 911
Internet domain: .bs
Transport and driving: Public buses (jitneys) and taxis are the most popular forms of public transport across the islands, although most expats choose to have their own car. Cars in the Bahamas drive on the left side of the road.
Are you an expat living in The Bahamas?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to The Bahamas. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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